Decrypting Yarn Labels

Knowing the information your yarn labels gives you if important.  There can be several things that can confuse people so I wanted to break them down.  We’ll look at several labels and what the different parts mean.

Fairy Tale Knits Yarn Label

Yarn Labels

So let’s start with one of mine.  Note: Not all labels will be in this order.  At the top you see my shop name.  Next is the base name, which simply is the yarn that I dyed this on.  I, like many other indie dyers and commercial dyers, name each of my bases.  Many will have themes (For example all of my Queen’s line is 100% Superwash Merino).  Some both indie shops and commercial shops choose not to name their yarn bases and just call them Superwash Merino or a common name that for the content like Kona for Superwash Merino or Cash Sock for a Cashmere/ Merino/ Nylon blend.  After that, we have the content on the yarn.  This is often times important so you know if you can felt the item, want to machine wash it, or if there’s a specific type of yarn you are looking for.

Then there is how much the yarn weighs and the yardage.  It’s important to understand that yardage is always an estimate and usually based on how many yards per pound.  Even when it is measured out before or after dyeing the yardage they get and you get can vary depending on how much it is stretched when measured.  I have found that yardages are usually listed with less than there really is but don’t count on that for a pattern.

Yarn Weights

Next is yarn weight, not how much it’s weight. Here it’s worsted which is between DK and Aran.  The Craft Yarn Council has a great page for looking up everything you need to know about yarn weights.

Last is washing instructions.  I recommend laying ALL hand knits flat to dry.  With all the effort you put into making them it’s worth the extra time to not machine dry them.  Then on the other side is the colorway name.  Not all companies name their colorways, some just use numbers.

Here is another Indie dyed yarn label

This one is from Wild Hare Fiber Studio.  The shop name is on the other side of the label.  The tops of this side is the yarn base.  Next is the colorway name. Then it’s the yarn content.  The next line starts with the yardage and it has the ply.  Plies are how many strands are in the yarn.  Last on that line is the weight and it ends with the shop info.

Symbols on Yarn Labels

First I want to cover the symbols that are just for yarn.

0 is as it says Lace Weight

1 is Fingering/ Sock

2 is Sport/ Baby

3 is Light Worsted/ DK (Double Knit)

4 is Worsted/ Aran

5 is bulky

6 is super bulky

7 is new, it’s for when you are knitting with roving

The page I linked to Craft Yarn Council before has all this information on it also.

Now for the other symbols.

Source: Dylan Roach/Business Insider

Many of your yarn tags will have some of these symbols on them so having this graphic handy will help.  Let’s look at a few

Knit Picks Yarn

This one makes it easy by having the washing instructions written and in symbols.

This one has symbols that give more information than what is written.  It’s hand wash and lay flat dry but it’s also no bleach, dry clean with any solvent except trichloroethylene, and low heat iron.

More Written Info

Sometimes you will have a needle/hook size recommended and a gauge given for that size needle or hook.  It might look something like one of these.


The first one has the gauge written out just like you’d see in a pattern.  This second one has a graphic for the gauge.  For that one in a 4×4 inch square, they are getting 18 stitches and 22 rows with a size US 8.  For the crochet side, they are using a K hook making a 4×4 square and getting 14 sc and 16 rows.  Unless it says otherwise for knitting the swatch is always in stockinette.

So I hope that has helped you better understand your yarn labels.  Don’t forget to share this post so all your fiber friends will better understand their yarn labels too.

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